Elizabeth Honey was a weedy child who always seemed to have a sore throat, so her parents didn't send her to school until she was nearly seven. The Honeys lived on a farm in the bush near Wonthaggi, Victoria. There were four kids and Elizabeth was number three. With her younger sister Mary, Elizabeth puzzled over jigsaws, played with the dogs, climbed trees and one way or another did a lot of pretending, on horses or tractors, in dress-ups or with glove puppets, round old trucks, cubbies, dams and hay sheds.
Elizabeth’s first picture book, Princess Beatrice and the Rotten Robber was published in 1988. She now lives in an old house in Richmond, Melbourne, with her graphic designer husband, and their two grown-up children who move home from time to time.
What are the best and worst things about being a writer?
‘Best - working at a time and place that suits me, in comfy clothes, no commuting, tasty left- overs for lunch. Another best – the buzz when my writing is going well, the frisson when I’ve done something really good. But the best best would have to be the friends I’ve made, like Heike Brandt, my co-author on To the Boy in Berlin. Heike lives in Berlin and she’s the most honest person I’ve ever met, and very funny.
Worst – procrastinating, not getting out of the house, or enough exercise. Fan-mail is a best and worst thing. It’s wonderful to receive, and I want to reply, but when my top priority is to finish a book it’s put to one side and I feel guilty.’
Of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?
‘The most recent book is always fresh in my mind. Each book reminds me of certain people, places and times. I like all my books. I try to make them as good as I can.’
Of all the characters you have written about, which are your favourites?
‘I like Old Jim in Fiddle-back and Mrs Biddle in The Ballad of Cauldron Bay. Older characters are interesting because they’ve done a lot of living and they know who they are. But I like the wild young ones too: Kate in Remote Man, and Danielle in Stella Street. I sometimes wonder what Jonah in Don't Pat the Wombat is doing. Was he fighting the bushfires? And where is Cleverton from Remote Man studying now? Of course Henni in Stella Street is a good mate.’
What is your favourite food and least favourite food?
'Ripe white peaches that you eat leaning over the sink and a cold crisp apple that goes craaaack! when you bite into it. Fresh flathead fillets lightly fried in breadcrumbs. Least favourite? Luke-warm undercooked greasy chips.'
School visits by Elizabeth within NSW can be organised through Lateral Learning. Visit http://www.laterallearning.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org. School visits within Victoria can be organised through Booked Out. Visit http://www.bookedout.com.au/ or email email@example.com